Interested in getting back in shape? Want to do so without putting your joints at risk or leaving the comfort of home?
Getting a rowing machine might be exactly the thing you need to do. Check out our guide to learn about the best rowing machines for seniors and see which features/benefits of this unique exercise equipment you need to look out for!
What is a Rowing Machine?
These exercise machines are designed to replicate the motions, feeling, and benefits of rowing crew. Rowing as an Olympic sport is one of the oldest in the world (older than football, basketball, and baseball), and practiced mainly in well-to-do areas of many countries.
Rowing machines are complex in construction but simple to use. The user places their hands on a small bar attached to a wire or chain; this chain is attached to a flywheel (a common component of exercise equipment) that provides adjustable resistance.
The user also sits atop a small seat which is affixed to a smooth track called a slide rail; the seat slides back and forth as the user pushes with their legs. They place their feet into footrests at the front of the machine. To exercise, the user pushes themselves back with their legs while simultaneously pulling the handlebar toward their chest. It might sound complex, but when you try it out, it feels rather natural.
Are Rowing Machines Safe for Seniors?
Before beginning a new workout routine or purchasing a piece of exercise equipment, you should consult your doctor if you have any hesitations. However, unless you have serious back issues, using a rowing machine is a very safe way to exercise.
Rowing machines require you to maintain a straight back while you exercise. Failing to do so can result in a sore back and strained muscles. If you already have a bad back, a rowing machine might not be the right piece of exercise equipment for you.
If your back is in good condition (even if it isn’t particularly strong), you can still safely use a rowing machine. Because they have adjustable resistance levels, you can keep the workout safe by using the lowest resistance levels until your back gets used to it.
Once you are accustomed to the rowing machine, you can use it to strengthen your back muscles, reducing your feelings of back pain and soreness. If you have chronic back pain, as many seniors do, using a rowing machine could be a great way to alleviate it- just make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Benefits of Seniors Using Rowing Machines
Rowing machines are a great way to get the heart pumping and blood flowing. Keeping your heart in good shape helps you reduce your risk of heart attacks and heart disease by as much as 40%. It also reduces your risk of diabetes and strokes (just the same way that walking does). Improved circulation can help with lowering your blood pressure, another great benefit of rowing machines.
Preserves the Joints
Walking and running are great ways to exercise, but they can leave your knees and ankles quite sore. If you want to exercise without the pain or have already weak joints, using a rowing machine is ideal for you. There are no harsh impacts or hard surfaces that your joints will be dealing with. Instead, your joints will be preserved, and the muscles that surround them will get stronger, too!
Good for All Muscles
Rowing is a full-body workout, strengthening your biceps, shoulders, back, and legs. Few other exercise machines can give you that amount of total-body exercise; ellipticals come close, but still focus mostly on the legs.
Good for Balance and Motor Skills
This is one of the best parts about riding bikes, but it’s also true of rowing machines. Balancing yourself on the seat and learning to push with your legs while at the same time pulling with your arms helps you develop balance and coordination. Balance issues that lead to falls are a serious risk for seniors. Using a rowing machine will improve your coordination over time, helping you avoid falls (or, at least, prevent a minor fall from becoming major).
How Often Should Seniors Use a Rowing Machine?
A healthy amount of weekly exercise is 150 minutes. That works out to about 30 minutes per exercise session, 5 times per week. This is a good target for rowing machine workouts, as it will give you enough time to work up a sweat and build muscle strength without going overboard.
If you aren’t in particularly good shape or it’s been years since you last adopted a workout regimen, 30 minutes is likely too much at the beginning. Instead, keep your
Safety Tips for Seniors Using Rowing Machines (How to Avoid Injury)
Major Brands of Rowing Machines
Sunny Health makes all sorts of exercise equipment and does so while maintaining high levels of quality and low prices at the same time. If you have a smaller budget, this is the company to be on the lookout for. Their rowing machines are comfortable, easy to use, and overall very simple.
Top 5 Rowing Machines for Seniors
1. Best Rowing Machine for Seniors (Overall): Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine
This lightweight rowing machine is ideal for seniors of any fitness level. It’s a simple machine that makes it incredibly easy to hop on and get to work. It has a 500-pound weight capacity, yet the machine itself weighs just 70 pounds and separates into two different pieces for simple storage.
The Model D has 10 different levels of resistance, an easy-to-use digital interface that tracks your distance and speed, and an incredibly smooth seat motion. It’s such an effective exercise machine in fact, that it’s the most popular rowing machine in the world.
You might expect that such a popular and effective workout machine would be priced somewhere in the low thousands, but that’s not the case with the Model D Rower. For less than $800, you can have this comfortable and portable rower in your home!
2. Best Budget Rowing Machine for Seniors: Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Rower
This rower costs less than half of what the Concept2 Model D does, and gives you many of the same features. While the slide track isn’t quite as smooth as the Model D, it’s still ideal for a great workout. It has a simple LCD screen that displays information in large, easy-to-read characters, and the extra-long slide rail is perfect for seniors of any height.
This machine uses magnetic resistance instead of air or water; this makes pulling on the handlebar smooth and easy. It has eight different resistance levels, which is rather low for a rower but still good enough. The largest downside of this model is that it has a weight capacity of only 250 pounds. If you’re a small or average-sized person who has a smaller budget, though, this rowing machine for seniors is very hard to beat!
3. Best Gym-Quality Rowing Machine for a Senior Citizen: Hydrow Rower
Hydrow was created to be the rowing alternative to the Peloton Bike. It’s a luxury total-body workout machine. It also has a large video screen which you can use to watch workout videos, track your progress, and stay motivated- just like Peloton. You can hop onto the Hydrow and watch a video of a calm river as you work out, feeling like you’re actually out on the water!
This workout machine is designed to be an all-in-one home gym, replacing all the other exercise equipment in your life. Similar to Peloton, Hydrow requires a monthly subscription to access the workout video library, and is considered to be a luxury product. So, while some seniors may balk at the $2,000+ price tag and additional monthly price, it’s capable of getting you in phenomenal shape from home. Seniors with a taste for luxury (and a budget that supports it) will find a lot to love with Hydrow.
Best Rowing Machine for Seniors (Runners-Up)
This foldable rowing machine goes toe-to-toe with the Concept2 Model D Rower in just about every way. It’s got an ultra-smooth glide track, an LCD display that lets you track your progress across several different stats, and it’s one of the easiest rowers on the market to separate and store.
More than that, RowWarrior includes a couple of accessories that help make it an excellent overall choice. First, you get a free heart rate monitor to wear on your wrist. Of all the great things about rowing machines, heart rate monitors are rarely included in them; having one to wear on your wrist is an excellent bonus!
Second, the AirRow comes with a custom-made seat cushion. It fits perfectly on the rower and is ideal for seniors who have sciatica, lower back pain, or just need a bit of extra comfort.
Water rowing machines might be heavier and less convenient than air and magnetic rowers, but they have a classic look that is undeniably cool. This rowing machine offers all the same benefits of more modern-looking rowing machines but has the real water resistance that helps you feel like you’re really on the water.
The Mr. Captain rower is also foldable, making it much easier than other water rowers to tuck out of the way when you aren’t using it. If you’re looking for a convenient rowing machine with a retro feel, this is absolutely the way to go!
Buying Guide: How to Choose a Rowing Machine
Price Range of Rowing Machines
The normal price range for a quality, durable rowing machine ranges between $400 and $1,200. This price range includes many of the most popular and nicest rowers. You can find some models that are cheaper; usually, they’re heavier and have fewer levels of resistance.
Cheaper rowers can provide a great workout for a great deal, but do your research before you buy to ensure you aren’t getting a cheaply made, useless exercise machine! If you want to save money, we suggest going with a model from Sunny Health and Fitness; they make affordable products that won’t let you down.
There are also more expensive models, such as the Hydrow, which are worth the money but unreasonably expensive for the needs of most seniors. If you have a higher budget, you will be satisfied with the Hydrow, even if it is flirting with the line of “overkill”.
What to Look for in Rowing Machines for Seniors
Rowing machines provide great exercise for seniors and people of all ages. As long as you don’t have back issues, they’re an excellent way to increase the strength of muscles across the entire body and develop cardiovascular health. Which rowing machine on our list are you considering? We’d love you to drop your comments in the space below! Thanks for reading!